2020 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

My Confessions of a Megalomaniac were my 2020 aspirations. How did I do? Not too shabby I reckon, despite “the Virus”.


Summary of the Year

I like spaghetti westerns and when writing this I came over all Clint Eastwood. So my year in 2020 as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The good

The big winners this year were Crossfire and Tilly’s Very Bad Day. I could have categorised my year as Crossfire, Tilly’s Very Bad Day and other stuff. But I put so much energy into those two game systems they warrant more than one project each. In fact I give them three each. Crossfire gets the Year of the Rice Paddies and the Italian Campaign. For Tilly’s Very Bad Day I branched away from the Thirty Years War into the English Civil War and my first eastern army, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Megalomaniac 2020

Megalomaniac 2020

The bad

As always there were some projects that I thought I’d d something on but didn’t. This is my megalomaniac aspirations from the start of 2019 and how I did on each:

  1. All >> Wargaming >> Any but mostly Crossfire, Big Base DBA/HOTT, and Operational [Covid-19. Say no more.]
  2. Various >> Jungle >> Crossfire [Some progress]
  3. TYW >> Version 2 >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Done]
  4. TYW >> Field Fortifications2 >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Some progress, but not on the website]
  5. TYW >> Scenarios >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day [Quite a few]
  6. TYW >> Saxons >> Tilly’s Very Bad Day[Some progress, but not on the website]
  7. WW2 >> Operational / 2nd Kharkov >> Deep Battle [Oh no!]
  8. Italian Wars >> Italian Wars >> new Rules [Oh no!]
  9. WW2 >> Soviet Tank Riders >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  10. Biblical >> Battle of Kadesh >> Big Base DBA [On no!]
  11. WW2 >> Kiwis in Italy >> Big Base DBA [Some progress]
  12. Portuguese Colonial War >> African Huts >> Fogo Cruzado / Crossfire [Oh no!]
  13. New World >> Conquistadores >> New World DBA [Oh no!]
  14. WW2 >> Ruins of Stalingrad >> Crossfire [Some progress, but not on the website]
  15. Arab-Israeli Wars >> 1967 Arab-Israeli War >> Crossfire [Oh no!]
  16. WW2 >> Italian Campaign >> Crossfire [Some progress]
  17. New World >> Sinhalese / Malay >> New World DBA [Some progress]
  18. WW2 >> Burma >> Crossfire [Some progress]
  19. Vietnam >> Anzacs >> Crossfire [Some progress]

The ugly

Well, we have to talk about the Pandemic. It sucked. Okay, my wargaming woes pale into insignificance compared to the death of a million people and economic disaster. But the pandemic did reach my hobby and, since this blog is about my hobby, I have to mention it. We played only three games since the pandemic hit in March. That isn’t a lot. Aside from the fact wargaming is all about playing, and we didn’t, I also missed the social aspect and hanging out with Adam, Chris and Jamie on a regular basis. So rather than playing I did a lot of planning/preparation. Much of that planning reached my website but not all of it, so some of it you’ll see in 2021.


#1 Crossfire

Crossfire still dominates my thinking. Aside from a general interest, I have a couple of sub-projects: Italian Campaign and Rice Paddies.

In terms of Crossfire in general, I finally did a piece on Crossfire Probabilities: Percentage Success in each Die Roll Mechanism. I also had a bit of a think about Assaulting Bunkers in Crossfire – Possible House Rules which resulted in Balagan Bunkers – New Crossfire house rule.

Balagan Bunkers - Bunker 1 - Firing Slit Front - Door Back

Balagan Bunkers – Bunker 1 – Firing Slit Front – Door Back

We only play one game of Crossfire: Breakout at the Hinge – A Crossfire Battle Report. It was a great game.

Breakout-31 Table

Breakout-31 Table


#2 Year of the Rice Paddy (Crossfire)

I declared 2020 the year of the rice paddy. I had plans for Vietnam, Burma and Portuguese Colonial War – all of which feature jungles and rice paddies.

So I made some appropriate tropical terrain, specifically Made Rice Paddies and also Bamboo Groves

Rice Paddy 872 - Village

Rice Paddy 872 – Village

Bamboo-62 Bamboo groves around Burmese village

Bamboo-62 Bamboo groves around Burmese village

Burma Campaign

I’ve been doing some planning for the Burma using Crossfire. Mostly orders of battle so I know what figures/models to buy. I started with a 14th Army Battalion – Order of Battle in Crossfire. But then I had a look at Commandos in the 14th Army in Burma and realised the order of battle would have to change.

I’ve settle on building two battalions for the 14th Army: one Welsh and one Gurkha. But these guys will need some armoured support so I did a bit of research to Choose my Anglo-Indian tanks for Burma.

9th Deccan Horse - British commander and Indian crew encounter elephant near Meiktila

9th Deccan Horse – British commander and Indian crew encounter elephant near Meiktila

And a WW2 Painting Guide: Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma.

Tac Signs for Stevens Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma v2

Tac Signs for Stevens Anglo-Indian Tanks in Burma v2

I quite like the idea of a Gurkha battalion so thought I’d write up some of the actions by 17 Indian Division, which had a high concentration of Gurkhas. That resulted in Bishenpur, Potsangbam and Ningthoukhong – Gurkhas on the Imphal Plain 1944.

Fighting at Potsangbam May - June 1944

Fighting at Potsangbam May – June 1944

Vietnam

Wow, I’ve read a lot about Vietnam this year, but you don’t really get to see that on my site. All that has appeared is my thinking on ANZACs in Vietnam – Steven’s Wargaming Project.

Portuguese Colonial War

I also updated my Portuguese Painting Guide for the Portuguese Colonial War by adding an infographic.

Caçadores - Painting Guide for Portuguese Colonial War

Caçadores – Painting Guide for Portuguese Colonial War


#3 Italian Campaign (Crossfire)

I have big plans for Kiwis in Italy – Steven’s Wargaming Project.

Kiwi Sherman from Cover of 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade in Italy

Kiwi Sherman from Cover of 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade in Italy

It is quite fun digging into some specific details. Like Planning my New Zealand Carriers In Italy for Crossfire.

New Zealand Universal Carrier - Rimini, Italy - September 1944

Universal Carrier – 21 (New Zealand) Battalion – Rimini, Italy – September 1944

And then there is the matter of Kiwi Vehicle Names in WW2.

But I haven’t been able to do any gaming as I don’t have the figures yet. However, Bruce Stewart shared his Lockdown Crossfire – Kiwis in Italy – A Crossfire Scenario (Bruce Stewart) and Two Battle Reports.

Lockdown 2-11 mopping up

Lockdown 2-11 mopping up

Of course Kiwis were not alone in Italy. I’ve also got plans for a Moroccan Tabor in Italy, which needs a Moroccan Tabor in Italy – Crossfire Orbat.


#4 Tilly’s Very Bad Day

It was a big year for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. For a start I finally published a stable version with Version 2 of Tilly’s Very Bad Day. The stable version meant it was worthwhile putting together a Quick Reference Sheet for Tilly’s Very Bad Day and also making it available as a printed copy (see How to get a paper copy of Tilly’s Very Bad Day).

Tilly-890 Imperialist Left

Tilly-890 Imperialist Left

Doctor Phalanx (Richard) encouraged me to release scenarios for Tilly’s Very Bad Day and I’ve reasonably well this year:

That gives me a good collection of small scenarios. Small armies on a small table.

Small Table - Lutzen - Tillys Very Bad Day

Small Table – Lutzen – Tillys Very Bad Day

But I wanted more. Historical scenarios take a bit longer to put together so I thought I’d have a go at Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenarios for All Ages. And using that post as a basis I converted a few scenarios from commercial scenario books to Tilly’s Very Bad day:

I’m very grateful to Roger Calderbank for play testing a couple of these – see the comments on S12 Fighting Across the River and S140 Dominant Hill. Roger also contributed his own scenario, Small Lutter Scenario.

Leading up to version 2 I did some Musing on Sequence of Play in Tilly’s Very Bad Day. More recently I was Musing on Unmounted Cavalrymen in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.

Doctor Phalanx (Richard) also wondered about using Tilly’s Very Bad Day for the period prior to the Thirty Years War. So I put together a bit on Battle of Nieuport 2 July 1600.

Nickle Figure 2 - Spanish formation - Battle of Nieuport - Hexham Part II - diagram between pp 21 and 22

Nickle Figure 2 – Spanish formation – Battle of Nieuport – Hexham Part II – diagram between pp 21 and 22


English Civil War (Tilly’s Very Bad Day)

I wrote Tilly’s Very Bad Day for the Thirty Years War, but it also works for the English Civil War. And Adam Landa has a massive interest in this period so I did some thinking in this space.

My major contribution was writing Populous, Rich, and Rebellious, an English Civil War Campaign. The campaign is based on Peter’s English Civil War Campaign for One Hour Wargames. You can find it in two formats: HTML and PDF

Populous Rich Rebellious – ECW Campaign – Logo

I have also written one scenario: Small Boldon Hill.


Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Tilly’s Very Bad Day)

The Eastern Armies – Poles, Cossacks, Transylvanians, Tatars and Ottomans – appeal to many, so not surprisingly people started asking whether they will work with Tilly’s Very Bad Day and if not, what changes are necessary. To be honest I didn’t really know which lead to my Spitballing on Eastern Armies in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.

I figured I should collect one of the Eastern armies to help me experiment (any excuse) and chose the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth because they stood up to the Swedes and, of course, they had Winged Hussars. Come on, Winged Hussars!!!

Winged Hussar 1697 - Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Winged Hussar 1697 – Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Source: Dariusz caballeros: Winged Hussar companion – circa 1697

So I did some research on the Army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 17th Century.

Components of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Army in the 17th Century

Components of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Army in the 17th Century

Then I looked at potential Polish-Lithuanian Orders of Battle Converted to Tilly’s Very Bad Day and Mused on Polish Winged Hussars in Tilly’s Very Bad Day. I still don’t have definitive answers but I’m edging towards something.

Finally I wrote a scenario to use when play testing with the Polish Winged Hussars: Small Kircholm – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

Table - Kircholm - Tillys Very Bad Day

Table – Kircholm – Tillys Very Bad Day


Minor Projects

Of course there are always some distractions thrown in. Things I call “minor projects”.

Turbans and Tricorns

Adam Landa put together a set of rules now called Turbans and Tricorns. Lovely figures fighting it out in India during the Seven Years War. We played a couple of test games and you’ll probably see more of this in 2021.

1760 British vs French in India – A Battle Report
1760 British vs French in India – Turbans and Tricornes Test Game 2

India-1983 French Sepoys hold the entrenchments

India-1983 French Sepoys hold the entrenchments

New World DBA

I read a couple of books and put together a Sinhalese and Tamil Army List for New World DBA.

Engle Matrix Games

At the start of the year it looked likely we’d play an Engle Matrix Game, so I put together a WW2 Battle Resolution for Engle Matrix Games. Alas it was not to be.

Searching for Rules for Ancients

We tried Triumph! again in our Four Player Big Battle Big Base Triumph in the Punic Wars. But we didn’t love it.

Triumph-299 Battle in the woods

Triumph-299 Battle in the woods

Searching for Rules for Horse&Musket

And I published my Horse and Musket Crossfire – Crossfire for the Horse and Musket Era. I wrote this years ago and figured I may as well put it out there rather than leaving it on my hard drive. I’m unlikely to take it further.

12 comments to 2020 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

  • John Rohde

    Re Horse & Musket rules, you might find Mark Sims’, Balance Of Power, interesting. It’s published by Crusader Games and available from as a print on demand as well as a PDF.
    I’ve tried various tweaks to them.
    Those I thought most useful were marking units that have retreated from melee so that they can’t move in the next turn. It stops the yo-yo effect, with units bouncing straight back into combat, that I personally don’t like.
    I’ve tinkered with allowing single strength point skirmishers to be be detached, on half-size bases or two strength point ones on full sized ones. I haven’t properly tested this and it adds complication and it could as easily be accepted that the skirmishers are factored into the close order units on the table.
    I’ve also tried having an evade rule, whereby horse artillery can opt to retreat half of their move if charged.
    I’m toying with applying the same to skirmishers but only if they have close order supports or cover within half a move. Otherwise they are dispersed.
    One rule I discard is the one against pre-measuring charges. I’m not happy with the limitations of the player in judging tabletop distances afflicting the entire army. If she/he were playing as a cavalry brigadier, that might be different.

    • Steven Thomas

      Thanks John. I’ll have a look at Balance of Power.

      • John Rohde

        Imho it does need a rule to stop columns doubling up on lines in frontal assaults. General d’Armee follows Von Reisswitz’s Kriegspiel in penalising columns if they lose. I tried doing similar in Balance of Power by doubling losing casualties on massed columns but it didn’t seem enough. I’d be tempted to follow Black Powder 2 in limiting attackers to one per face, though massed columns were used historically.

  • Wow .. very, very impressive output
    Always admired your work
    Very comprehensive

  • Forget the bad and the ugly! What an impressive haul!
    Have a great Christmas and keep up the good work!
    Mike B
    Despertaferres!

  • jony663

    I went with 4 projects for 2020 and I added one and was able to complete or almost complete 4 out of 5. Important to set goals. Now on to 2021

  • Bruce

    With regard to crossfire , I have all the toys just looking for opponents at this stage .

    And how to recreate the hilly terrain for crossfire.

    Hope you and the family are well

    • Steven Thomas

      Bruce, when you say “hilly terrain for crossfire” what do you mean? I’m assuming you don’t mean the normal CF hills, but something more elaborate.

      My Kiwis in Italy should see the table top in 2021. So I’ve been thinking about hilly Italian terrain (and hilly Burmese terrain) quite a lot. I’ve got cliffs and ravines sorted. I’m still a bit weak on contour lines (as per Hit the Dirt).

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